The challenge of group travel is keeping a busful of individuals happy. In order to provide great experiences that encourage people to travel with their group again, travel leaders must not only determine what their travelers like but also deliver those wish lists with gusto.
To assist, Select Traveler is featuring a six-part series in 2014 on the many travel personalities you’ll find on the motorcoach. While it is impossible to offer an excursion that will make everyone happy, here you will find opportunities to create special-interest tours and even ideas for free time, those times when participants have choices to enjoy what pushes their personal buttons.
In the last issue, we discussed the adventurer. In this issue, we explain the pilgrim. In upcoming issues, our topics will be the connector, the learner and the vacationer.
The group member we call the pilgrim is, in many ways, the kind of traveler leaders relish. There is no doubt this person is excited, well prepared and dedicated.
This vacationer has had this trip on his to-do list for as long as he can remember because there is at least one destination on the itinerary that he holds dear to his heart. He has read about it, he has studied it, and he may even have an emotional attachment to it. Though some components on the excursion may be irrelevant to him, it is grand to have such an educated group member who is happy to share his knowledge.
On the problematic side, the pilgrim also expects everyone else in the group to share his overwhelming enthusiasm — not always the case, as travel leaders know.
True Treasure Hunters
On what was to be a simple day trip in 2013, LaDonna Allen, alumni association director for Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Alabama, discovered she had three pilgrims on her motorcoach.
“Our group loves the day trips we make to antique and thrift stores,” Allen said. “On this particular trip with 32 people aboard, we had three women who came from far away to join us because the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro was on the itinerary.”
The Unclaimed Baggage Center is a sprawling 40,000-square-foot store with a variety of departments to explore, including fine jewelry, books, electronics, clothing and even an area deemed as a museum for items the website claims are “too weird or wonderful to sell.”
“The company has been in business for years. The store not only has items from unclaimed airline baggage but stuff from trucks and other sources. It’s not all used; there’s lots of new merchandise,” said Allen.
On that particular day, with many stops on the agenda, including lunch at an eatery that specializes in Southern cuisine, Allen realized that her three pilgrims had no intention of leaving the Unclaimed Baggage Center in the allotted time.
“They loved that place,” she said with a sigh. “We spent much more time there than we should have, but a time like this is when it is important to be flexible. In fact, their enthusiasm was infectious, and it was great to see them so excited.
“They bought quite a bit of stuff. Can I tell you that there is no way we could have jammed one more thing in the bottom of the bus?”